Philadelphia -- There's something about Mary.
And it's something the Republicans just don't want to talk about.
Mary is Mary Cheney, the 31-year-old daughter of GOP vice
presidential nominee Dick Cheney.
She is a lesbian, and she hasn't kept it a secret -- either to her
friends or to her employer, Coors Brewing Co., where she is the gay
and lesbian corporate relations manager.
And Mary has been at the Republican convention, sitting next to mom Lynne Cheney in Philadelphia's First Union Center.
But as far as the GOP is concerned, the message has been clear.
No, we don't talk about Mary, and more important, we don't talk to
Mary has been given different treatment from that accorded George
P. Bush, the nephew of presidential nominee George W. Bush. The GOP
touts the sexy Latino appeal of ``P'' and revels in his nomination by
People magazine as one of America's hottest bachelors. He's giving
more interviews than Ricky Martin these days.
But as Mary Cheney told Time magazine in some of her few public
words to date on the subject, ``I love my father. I don't want to be
That the GOP is determined she won't became clear when Lynne
Cheney was asked about her daughter being openly gay by ABC newswoman
Cokie Roberts on Sunday.
Mrs. Cheney said her daughter is ``bright'' and ``hard-working''
and ``decent,'' and yes, she loves her. But, she said acidly, ``My
daughter has never declared such a thing.''
Pressure from the religious right on this issue already has
surfaced. Jerry Falwell, in a newsletter issued before the
convention, used the word ``errant'' to describe Mary Cheney.
GAY ACTIVISTS PROTEST
But the campaign's transformation of Mary Cheney into a nonperson
has so incensed gay activists that they held a news conference
yesterday, comparing Republicans' treatment of Mary to Ross Perot's
``crazy aunt in the attic.'' Trot her out to the window, so folks
will know she's alive. But don't let them know what is really going
``People are curious to get to know her. But it seems to be that
that has been shut down by the Bush campaign,'' said Elizabeth Birch
of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay and lesbian
Birch said Americans often are willing to accept ``this notion of
gay Americans working hard, being driven, being dynamic.'' But they
draw the line when they ``bring their partner to the company
``All his daughter's presence does is shine a light'' on such
contradictions, said Birch.
She said she knows and deeply respects Mary Cheney and has worked
with her in her role at Coors.
``She's someone any campaign would be proud of,'' she said. ``Mary
was very open with me about her sexual orientation.'' But she notes
it is not Mary Cheney's obligation to talk about that in public.
The real problem, Birch said, is Bush and Dick Cheney, the
``This highlights the fact that the American public does not know
with a great deal of precision what their positions are on gay
issues,'' she said.
FROM ALL SIDES
Mary Cheney is now officially a no-winner. She'll be criticized by
some gay activists as an Uncle Tom if she doesn't speak out. She'll
be lambasted by the Christian right if she does.
Already, the tug-of-war has started.
``I find it very strange, this state of denial,'' said Bob
Mulholland, campaign coordinator for the California Democratic Party.
``It's like she's Charlie Manson . . . and I feel terrible for the
Said Log Cabin Republicans member Frank Ricchiazzi, boasting how
far his gay and lesbian conservative group has come since the
``vicious'' 1992 GOP convention in Houston: ``Eight years later, we
have a Republican vice presidential nominee who has a gay daughter.''
There is something, indeed, about Mary.
And that is: In election 2000, both sides will want a piece of
©2000 San Francisco Chronicle